GIWA annual meeting includes two fiscal year audits, construction update and election of officers

January 23, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

BY BONNIE PRINGLE – The Gasparilla Island Water Association, Inc. annual membership meeting was held at the Boca Grande Community Center on Tuesday, Jan. 19, with 12 members present in person and 562 by proxy.

In his president’s report, Leslie Diaz stated that the rehabilitation of our water reclamation facility is progressing as planned. Construction of two concrete tanks and an elevated platform to support new equipment and walkways is now complete.

One of our biggest challenges was taking delivery of a 14’ wide prefabricated electrical building that was shipped from Tampa to the Island. Due to the width, it was an oversized load taking up part of the oncoming lane which required pilot truck escorts. The building was transferred to a smaller truck on 7th Street and carefully transported to the site. Once again, the width was an issue as it made it over the temporary construction bridge and access road with minimal clearance. The next phase of the project includes another prefabricated building, but we have decided to bring that to the Island in sections. Diaz stated that the entire project should be completed within three years.

He also reported that our three water storage tanks on the Island will be rehabilitated this Spring. The GIWA Board is reviewing possible aesthetic improvements to the tanks.    

The membership was provided with GIWA’s audited financial statements for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 (both of which ended on September 30)prepared by Suplee, Shea, Cramer & Rocklein. The budget for the new fiscal year was discussed as well.

GIWA treasurer Gap Kovach stated that the most important statement in the independent audit report is the auditor’s opinion, which in summary states that in their judgement, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of GIWA as of September 30, 2020 and 2019, and the changes in its equity and cash flow for the years then ended are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. GIWA has a small office staff, but they do an excellent job properly recording our transactions resulting in clean opinions from our auditors.

Kovach stated that we implemented the last of the five-year 9.5 percent rate increases previously approved by the membership that were required to obtain financing for the water reclamation facility project.    

As we informed the membership in the meeting notice, we have both good and bad news concerning the cost of construction. The bad news is that construction costs are higher than estimated. The original estimate completed in 2016 was $13 to $15 million, but it now appears that construction costs will total between $18 and $19 million. We now have a much better handle on costs because we have selected our equipment and a contractor, so we are feeling more confident in these numbers.

On a good note, to offset the higher construction costs, with the historically low interest rates we have drawn $7.5 million of our loan and set the rate at 3.75 percent for 25 years. The rate is well below our original estimates providing a savings of almost $2 million.  If rates stay low, we will be able to set additional loan draws at the lower rates giving us even further savings.

The following nominees were proposed by the Board of Directors to fill three open seats.

• R. W. (Bill) Caldwell, III, current director on GIWA’s Board of Directors.

• Tom Courtney, current director on GIWA’s Board of Directors.

• Susan Spurgeon, past Secretary on GIWA’s Board of Directors.

The nominees were unanimously approved.

With no further business, the meeting adjourned.

A special meeting of the Board was held immediately following to elect officers for 2021.The 2021 GIWA Board of Directors includes:

Leslie Diaz, President

Jeff Moore, Vice President

Gasper Kovach, Treasurer

Susan Spurgeon, Secretary

Bill Caldwell

Tom Courtney

Bob Heilman

Anne Marini

John Merritt

Bonnie Pringle is the executive director of the Gasparilla Island Water Association, Inc.